Monday, April 03, 2006

Corruption and bribery, an acquired habit and response (Pt 1)

The government has launched a public opinion poll via SMS managed by the Public Complaints Bureau to gauge the response of the rakyat to the 9th Malaysia Plan. Ostensibly, your response will in some way contribute to the success of the 9MP.

The poll question is:-

The success of the 9th Malaysia Plan depends mainly on:
  • A. Change in attitude

  • B. Fair distribution

  • C. Effective monitoring

  • D. The government's delivery system, and

  • E. No corruption.

If you think your voice will make a difference to what the government will do to make the 9MP a success for all of us, go on and take a vote here. Personally I'd rather save myself the 7 sen SMS charge and speak up in this blog, FOC. I'm realistic enough to believe that either way, it makes no difference because no one would hear or care anyway. At least, over here it costs me nothing.

On the subject of corruption, I read a very good letter published in The Edge Malaysia (April 3, 2006 edition, at page 50). I can't find the link anywhere so I shall reproduce this rather lengthy letter for the benefit of my readers and anyone else interested in this subject in my next post. Trust me, it is a very interesting read because the writer has expressed himself so well that I feel as if he is speaking on my behalf.

But back to the present topic.

I have an interesting tale to tell you about an incident involving Nick, a college student who had a brush with a police officer yesterday.

Nick was heading back to his campus in KL along the North-South highway about noon yesterday when he slowed his car down towards one of the toll booths. As he was winding down his window to pay the toll, all of a sudden he felt a big jolt coming from behind - a car had crashed into his rear bumper.

The culprit was a police officer in a police car.

Nick got down to inspect the damage and found the rear lights broken, the boot door smashed in and jam-locked.

This must be a most unusual situation for the police officer to be in, for what he did next was unexpected (and amusing when the tale was related to us later). This officer unpleasantly found himself on the wrong side of the table and his reaction to it was very telling.

After both parties got their vehicles safely out of the way of traffic, the negotiations began. He beckoned Nick aside and sheepishly apologised for the accident. Apparently, he was feeling sleepy behind the wheel and could not slow down fast enough coming towards the toll plaza to avoid knocking into Nick's car.

Nick: Jadi, apa macam sekarang?
P.O.: Ini macamlah, you jangan buat polis repot. You bawa kereta you pergi ke workshop (he named one located in a small town about 15km away). Nanti saya bayar kos bikin balik kereta you, okay?
Nick: Mana boleh tak buat repot? Nanti kalau you tak mahu bayar, macam mana saya mau claim insurance?
P.O.: Saya mesti bayar punya. Tak payah buat repot. Nanti saya susah oh.
Nick: Saya tak mahu pergi ke workshop itu lah. Saya tak tahu tempat sana.
P.O.: Tak apalah. You cari workshop lain, tanya berapa harga dulu. Ini nombor telefon saya. Nanti you call saya. Jangan takut, saya janji bayar balik. Tak apalah, you tolong I sikit ini kali.

Knowing that there's nothing more that he could do in that situation, Nick took down the officer's handphone number and called up his uncle for advice. Nick was told to get his car to a trusted workshop and not to expect too much by way of full compensation from the police officer. Needless to say, Nick felt real "suey" that day and decided to accept that it was probably a case of "por choi dong joi" (a Cantonese superstition meaning "losing money to avert a bigger disaster").

As I blog now, I do not know yet what is the outcome of the story. I guess it doesn't really matter, does it?

I can't help feeling amused that police officers too behave just like the ordinary Malaysian man in the street when it come to such situations. They will not hesitate to "plea-bargain" their way out of trouble.

So you see, when the tables are turned on them, the law enforcers are really no different from you and me. Everyone just want to find the easiest way to "settle" a problem without wasting time and getting into more trouble on top of the original one.

The maxim is, kenapa nak susah-susah? Lecehlah!

Now, read the upcoming post to further understand why Malaysians are becoming so used to the culture of corruption and bribery that it has now become almost an accepted, albeit frequently denied, part of our society here.



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